That's because the sun gives off ultraviolet (UV) light that damages your skin and causes sunburn. Over time, these rays can lead to wrinkles, dark spots, and other problem areas. The result: You can add years to your looks. Research shows that UV exposure is the reason behind 80% of your skin's aging.
To protect itself from the damaging effects of the sun, your skin increases its production of the dark brown pigment called melanin. The extra melanin makes your skin look darker or sun-tanned. In some cases, the sun causes an uneven increase in melanin production, which produces irregular coloring (pigmentation) of the skin. The sun can also cause a permanent stretching of small blood vessels, giving your skin a mottled, reddish appearance.
Melanin is the dark brown pigment in the top layer of skin (epidermis) that gives skin its color.
This pigment protects the deeper layers of skin from sun damage. The more melanin in the skin, the darker the skin appears and the more protection it has against sun damage.
People with medium or dark complexions naturally have more protection than do people with lighter complexions. But they still can experience sun damage. This man's face shows signs of sun damage — increased areas of irregular pigmentation and wrinkles.
Ultraviolet radiation breaks down the skin's connective tissue — collagen and elastin fibers — that lies in the deeper layer of skin (dermis). Without the supportive connective tissue, the skin loses its strength and flexibility. This condition, known as solar elastosis (e-las-TOE-sis), is characterized by vertical creases, deep wrinkles, and loose or sagging skin.
Also referred to as "mask of pregnancy," melasma (muh-LAZ-muh) is a brown darkening of facial skin. Melasma likely occurs from a combination of factors, including exposure to sunlight and an increase in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Melasma often affects women who:
The dark patches usually occur on the cheeks and forehead. Melasma usually fades during winter months in northern latitudes but returns in spring. It also tends to fade after pregnancy or when you stop taking oral contraceptives or hormone therapy.
Lentigo maligna is a type of growth that develops in areas of long-term sun exposure, such as your face, hands or legs. Lentigo maligna starts as a dark flat spot that slowly darkens and enlarges. Eventually the spot may develop into a melanoma, a type of skin cancer that begins in the top layer of skin and then invades the underlying skin layer. See your doctor if you notice a:
Photoprotection. Vitamin C limits the damage induced by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Vitamin C is not a “sunscreen” because it does not absorb light in the UVA or UVB spectrum. Rather, the antioxidant activity of vitamin C protects against UV-induced damage caused by free radicals.
When the skin endures ultraviolet ray exposure from the sun, burning and cell damage occurs. The skin attempts to repair by releasing melanin, the chemical that produces skin bronzing. Skin cells undergo DNA repair but depending on the severity of the sun damage, new cells may have alterations in coloration or texture. Irreparable DNA damage may lead to the abnormal cell reproduction commonly associated with skin cancer.
Laboratory studies indicate that Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, niacinamide or nicotinic acid, stimulates and ensures healthy DNA repair while increasing the rate of cellular reproduction. The vitamin also decreases the amount of healing time, interferes with melanin production and release. The result of applying B3 containing products includes the development of healthier, younger looking skin.
Scientists found that these regenerative properties do not only aid in the healing of sun damaged skin. By directly encouraging skin cell reproduction, Vitamin B3 deters the effects that accompany the natural aging process because cellular reproduction decreases with age.
The vitamin also enhances general skin appearance by encouraging lipid production, which acts as a protective barrier that retains moisture beneath the skin. Besides providing a better general appearance, properly hydrated skin becomes less susceptible to damage or irritation. Further investigation of Vitamin B3 also suggests that the vitamin acts as a natural exfoliant by encouraging the removal of accumulated dead skin cells that affect skin color and texture.
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